It's Only Rock'n Roll
This list is not complete, but it gives you a rough feeling about how the initial tu set list developed. As it was hard to hear what they rehearsed at the Fillmore from outside, these listings are not all too complete. But the rest should be quite correct. If you have comments, feedback o general information about these rehearsals, please send email to IORR. Thanks!
See the inside report from this night's rehearsals at the end of this page - Behind the Velvet Rope by PauseRecord.
Small Stage Set:
See the Oakland review for detaila about the opening show, and the No Security reviews for all other shows, set lists and reviews. Enjoy the shows!
PS. Two days later, in Sacramento Wednesday Jan. 27, they did a short rehearsals set before the doors opened,as follows:
For example there are many great posters and pictures in the Fillmore Auditorium, but one of the most interesting is one most patrons never see. Right at the bottom of the back stairs, right at the threshold between the dressing rooms and the stage, there is a photograph that only the artists and crew generally get a look at. It is of Bill Graham on stage, dosed to the gills, banging on a cowbell with the Grateful Dead back in 1967 or 1968.
It is an interesting place for the image, because it means a lot. On one level, it is a glorious celebration of the wild and woolly psychedelic history of the Fillmore. On another level, the photo serves as a warning to the artists about to take the stage: get too high before you go on and you risk losing all control in front of a lot of people.
And so it is that when one crosses behind the proverbial velvet rope before a show at the Fillmore, or any major rock concert these days for that matter, one will find that it is all business. Even bands whose reputations for off-stage partying are legendary will generally be found taking it easy on the booze and dope before a show, if they indulge at all. Soundchecks and rehearsals are work not play, even if it is the kind of work a lot folks might think they would like to have, and work that is interesting to some of us to watch.
Nowhere was that more clear than watching the Rolling Stones rehearse in the Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium in Oakland last night. The Stones, who embark upon a nationwide tour of the United States on Monday night, were putting the final touches on their stage show in the almost empty arena. From the camera operators to the light crew, from the special effects team to the sound guys, the entire Rolling Stones "No Security" team was running through the paces of what will be a very elaborate production in some of the largest indoor arenas in the country.
And for the Stones and the crew it was work, don't let anyone kid you. This was not like one of the secret Rolling Stones shows you read about sometimes right before a tour starts, this was a technical rehearsal, the very last one before the tour goes public. The culmination of weeks of work that began in British Columbia sometime back, which followed months of planning before that, was present in what happened last night.
The basic choreographing was checked out for the last time so the lights could be tested. The transition between the huge main stage and the smaller stage some 60 to 90 feet out into the crowd area was practiced, and the final marks for where the backup singers would be were laid out. So was breaking down that small stage's equipment quietly, quickly, and almost unnoticeably when they were done with it, so it won't block the view or distract from the mainstage to which the Stones returned.
A Rolling Stones concert is a huge production. All the tremendous lighting beams were flown from the ceiling, and were up and running. All of the state of the art light fixtures were tested, from the times when they will flash in wild abandon all over the stage and the audience, to the quieter times when the stage alone will be dimly lit in rich purples accented by hints of yellow. The entire arena sized PA system was running at full volume. Say what you will about the ticket prices and corporate sponsorship, but there is certainly big money and a hell of a lot of design and equipment involved in the upcoming Stones concerts.
And while there was a certain amount of last minute tinkering with equipment, checking and revising of cue sheets, a few last minute production decisions to be made -- these involve Mick exclusively speaking for the band, it seems; Keith and company simply hang around and chain smoking cigarettes and joking during them -- there was also some music to be played. And played it was. The Rolling Stones may be the butt of many a joke as they get older, but the truth be told they are still contenders for the title of the world's greatest rock and roll band.
The question is why. What is it about the Rolling Stones that makes them so special?
The answer is at least partly in their charisma, I think, a charisma so strong one could feel it, see it, hear it, even though Mick Jagger was clearly holding a lot back in his vocal presentation, and wasn't running amok all over the stage as he will be doing when the show happens before a crowd. But it was still amply evident. It does get more exciting when Jagger gets closer to you and prances about on the wings of the stage. There is something wonderful about the way the Keith Richards and Ron Wood stroke those guitar strings, the way Charlie Watts drums. There is something those guys have that even the extremely talented side-men and women supporting the Stones on bass, keyboards, backing vocals and horns do not have.
There is something dangerous in all that charisma. It is a good thing Jagger and company decided to go into rock and roll. There is something vaguely proto-fascist, after all, about huge stadiums full of people participating in a cult of personality and mass spectacle, something that has at least a hint of the Nurenburg rallies of Adolph Hitler and the films of Leni Reifenstahl that documented them, spreading their images even further. One gets the feeling that had Jagger and company went into politics instead of music they could have been very dangerous; dangerous in the ways that Hitler or Stalin were dangerous. They just have that much charisma.
But rock in the hands of the Rolling Stones is not politics, especially not along anything even close to those lines. There may be a whole lot of pro-capitalist subtext in expensive entertainment like the Stones present, but it is strictly subtext. Mostly what you will find at a Rolling Stones concert on the coming "No Security" tour is big time rock and roll; some of the biggest big time rock and roll in the world.
There are good reasons for that beyond the charisma of the group. Mostly it is in the songs. The Rolling Stones are simply great song-writers. What a catalog they were running through last night. They only touched on part of it, of course, in the brief time I was there. But from the ballads like "Moonlight Mile," and more recent rockers like "Undercover," to the classics like "Honky Tonk Woman" and "Respectable," the Rolling Stones prove they are among the greatest rock and roll bands ever everytime the played a song last night, and it was only a rehearsal. (They played several other songs as well, but I can't remember the names of them as much as I can remember smiling and tapping my feet and thinking 'this is very cool and it sounds very good.')
The Rolling Stones have always had excellent taste in covers, of course, and several of them were rehearsed last night as well. "Route 66" stands out in my memory in particular, as it had as much energy as it had in the mid-1960s when they first recorded it. (Some in the know suggested that there will be many of the older Stones covers played on this tour, in part because the band does not control the phonographic copyright to their oldest material ands wants versions of these songs they do control.)
And even through all that, there are elements of any big time rock and roll show that has this much staging that can border on the cheesy, the overwrought and over-produced, and the "No Security" tour will offer at least a bit of that it seems. This time it is in the form of Mick Jagger in a cage that seems worthier of Prince than of the Stones. On the other hand, the cage metaphor is something we've all felt, and may be especially evocative to those who have ever been in jail for any length of time.
At about a quarter past midnight the band called it quits, and the rehearsals were done. Mick threw a red sweater over his green button down shirt, the house lights came up full, and those few of us privileged enough to have been witnesses to the Rolling Stones in rehearsal filed out. Eventually the band would as leave well, leaving a crew that would have to break down the tremendous amounts of staging and lights, the huge video screens and projection equipment, the PA and soundboards and instruments and television equipment, and load it all into a fleet of shiny new eighteen- wheelers before sun up, only to start setting it all back up in the Oakland Coliseum tomorrow for Monday night's opening night performance.
Read all about the "No Security" and "Bridges To Babylon" tours of 1999 in the It's Only Rock'n Roll magazines. New issue IORR 35 out Jan 20, 1999.
It's Only Rock'n Roll 1999 -
© The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe